By Madison Loethen
Kathy Smith, a nurse of 45 years, knew she needed to have a second knee replacement surgery but was dreading the pain and discomfort that would come along with it. She’d had her left knee replaced just months before and had her right knee surgery scheduled when she heard about the newly offered iovera° procedure at Boone Hospital Center.
The iovera° system temporarily blocks the nerves in the knee, providing an alternative to traditional opioid pain management. A radiologist uses a handheld device to administer iovera° therapy under ultrasound guidance. The iovera° device uses cold temperatures to hinder the nerves in the knee from sending pain signals to the brain.
iovera° is typically offered one to two weeks before knee replacement surgery and can provide pain relief for several weeks – until the patient is well into their recovery process. Boone Hospital Center is currently the only hospital in mid-Missouri to offer the procedure.
“I went in to get the iovera° procedure done and was amazed at how quick and painless it was,” says Kathy.
Two weeks later, Kathy had her knee replacement surgery and says her recovery went great.
“When I got my first knee done, I had to take medication several times a day. And my knee was very stiff and wouldn’t bend for days. It took me probably two-and-a-half weeks to feel like myself. When I got my second knee done after the iovera° procedure, I didn’t have to take much pain medicine and my knee was bending the next day,” says Kathy.
Alan Anz, MD of Columbia Orthopaedic Group is an advocate of the procedure and often recommends it to his knee replacement patients. He says Kathy’s results are similar to other cases he’s seen.
“I’ve even had several patients who have had one knee replaced before we had iovera°, and then the second with the procedure. These patients each noted a significant improvement in pain control after surgery compared with the previous side,” he says.
Dr. Anz also notes the procedure allows patients to cut back on the need for opioids; “In today’s climate of hypervigilance with respect to opioid usage, I have found iovera° to be helpful in limiting opioid usage and helping to combat opioid dependence and abuse.”
Kathy is now back to work as a Boone Hospital Home Health nurse and is able to do her job without pain or the need to take any pain medicine. She says she would recommend iovera° and Dr. Anz to anyone who needs knee replacement surgery.